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Canada Basketball, the Toronto Raptors and MLSE continue partnership to grow basketball for women and girls in Canada

TORONTO (November 1, 2023) – With a shared commitment to growing and supporting women’s basketball nationwide, Canada Basketball, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) and the Toronto Raptors announced Wednesday a new partnership initiative, building on years of collaboration between the organizations.

To recognize Canada Basketball’s longest-standing supporter, the shorts of Canada’s Senior Women’s National Team uniform will feature the Toronto Raptors logo for several upcoming games and tournaments ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

“On behalf of my teammates with Canada’s Senior Women’s National Team, I’d like to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation to MLSE and the Toronto Raptors for their continued support of not only our team but also growing the game for girls and women across Canada,” said Kia Nurse, two-time Olympian and Senior Women’s National Team guard. “Integrating the patch onto the national team uniform showcases our strong bond and how basketball can unify a nation around the sport we all love.”

To celebrate the announcement, a girls basketball clinic was hosted by the organizations on Wednesday at MLSE Launchpad with participants from the facility’s basketball program, program partners, and local schools. Members of Canada Basketball’s Senior Women’s National Team - including Nurse, Natalie Achonwa, Bridget Carleton, Laeticia Amihere, Nirra Fields and Syla Swords participated as guest coaches for the event.

“Over our years of partnership with Canada Basketball, we have always been energized by our organizations’ shared commitment to loving and growing the game of basketball in our country, and especially with the next generation of women and girls,” said Shannon Hosford, Chief Marketing Officer, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and Canada Basketball board member. “The process to add the Raptors logo to the Women’s team’s shorts has been a long one and we are grateful to the NBA and Canada Basketball for their work with us to make it a reality. We are proud to have the Raptors logo worn by these incredible athletes as they represent us on the global stage.”

Since the Toronto Raptors were founded in 1995, both the team and MLSE have been advocates and partners of Canada Basketball, their women’s national teams and their development program.

“This patch symbolizes the partnership between our team and the Senior Women’s National Team, and we’re very proud of that, and of the athletes who wear it,” said John Wiggins, the Raptors’ vice-president of organizational culture and inclusion. “Our commitment to growing women’s sports - and supporting women who work in sports - starts at the grassroots, is reflected in our own organization and is something we remain dedicated to.” 

As part of their strategic partnership to growing the game of basketball in the country, MLSE and Canada Basketball also previously collaborated to develop #madlove, a cross-channel awareness campaign to inspire and rally Canadians together for female-identifying athletes in basketball and beyond. The campaign launched on International Women’s Day in 2021. At the inaugural GLOBL JAM in 2022, the Raptors hosted #madlove Night to unite athletes, fans, influencers, organizers and allies as Canada faced France.

The organizations continue to work together to facilitate the ongoing development and success of Canada’s women’s national teams. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when quarantine protocols did not allow for training in Canada, the Raptors hosted the Senior Women’s National Team in their temporary training facilities in Tampa as they prepared for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The team has also been welcomed at MLSE-owned and operated training facilities OVO Athletic Centre and Scotiabank Arena for individual workouts and camps ahead of various international FIBA competitions. 

The Senior Women’s National Team are hosting a training camp in Toronto this week in preparation for the upcoming FIBA Women’s Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament in Medellín, Colombia, from November 9-12, 2023.  With a top-two finish in the competition, Canada would move on to one of the FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournaments in February as they look to advance to their fourth consecutive Olympic games.

Canada’s Senior Women’s National Team is ranked fifth in the FIBA World Ranking Women, presented by Nike, after an update to the rankings following the FIBA Women's Continental Championships.